Creating Tomorrow out of the Wholeness of Today | Sojourners

Creating Tomorrow out of the Wholeness of Today

October reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C.
An illustration of a person climbing a ladder while giant hands add rungs to the ladder's frame.
Credit: Anton Vierietin | iStock

PUBLIC EDUCATOR AND philosopher Cornel West has spoken about the difference between optimism and hope. Optimism, as he understands it, can point to empirical evidence that suggests things will get better, while hope can exist without any of that. Even when nothing around us points to a bright future, hope defiantly holds on for a better day. Baptist minister and social ethicist Miguel A. De La Torre argues in his book Embracing Hopelessness that hope is often used as a tool of oppression and pacification. For him, hopelessness can be an animating force for justice because a deep enough dissatisfaction with the status quo will move us to change it.

I find resonance and challenge in both of these dear teachers’ perspectives. Very little of our time suggests that things are progressing the way they should. The status quo is untenable and must be changed. Both perspectives remind us not to trust or be satisfied with the way things are. We must find motivation to build the world we need rather than accepting the one we have. For many Christians, October begins with World Communion Sunday and ends with All Hallows’ Eve and Reformation Day. We celebrate our eucharistic ties to Christians around the world, recognize the great cloud of witnesses and saints who have gone before, and commemorate one of the many movements in church history that have pushed us toward something new. We live in a time when very little resembles what we knew just a few years ago. How might our texts help us build for what is coming?

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